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Re: Vanishing hams and an after thought about young hamsand sats


On Jul 16, 2008, at 2:46 PM, Michael Tondee wrote:

> I always read with great interest when I see references to "the  
> graying of
> the hobby" .

As do I, as a 25 year old guy who grew up with a dad as a very  
occasional ham and who was a broadcast engineer for a living. I  
decided to get licensed when I was 19, after I was living on my own,  
on Sept. 10, 2001. I'm now 25, and living back in the San Francisco  
Bay Area, where, probably moreso than other locales, the ham  
population is nearly non-existant for folks under 40. I'm 25 now, and  
I live in San Francisco proper. There's zero ham community here.

> When we start to talk about old hams I always wonder whose
> definition of old we are using. I'm 45 and I certainly don't  
> consider myself
> old. I see a lot of hams my age or thereabouts at hamfest and in QST  
> and
> AMSAT journal pics etc. etc.. I once worked in the retail end of  
> amateur
> radio and I saw a lot of hams anywhere between 30 and 50 coming in  
> and out
> of the store everyday.

How long ago? I suspect that may have changed. There's one local  
amateur radio shop in Oakland around here, and the staff there has  
frankly been somewhat cold, although not un-friendly, to the new folk  
who have walked into the place as I've been there.

> I also saw the stereotypical old gray haired fellas
> who always looked as grouchy and unhappy as they seemed. ( Funny,  
> somehow I
> envision Dave G. this way. ;-) )  I guess what I'm getting at is  
> that it's
> all a matter of perspective. To a teenager I guess I'm what Bob  
> calls an old
> fud. To me an old Fud is one of you 65 or 70 year old retired  
> fellas. And
> no, I don't think you are all old grouchy and unhappy, just some of  
> you.
> 73,

Having worked with and under a variety of bosses/coworkers of  
disparate ages, I've personally found there's a pretty strong  
generational/relational schism between myself and someone over ~45-50.  
For myself at least, this is the point at which I find it much more  
difficult to relate, and I suspect that's true in the inverse as well.  
As the ham community ages, and fresh blood becomes more scarce, I only  
see this getting worse. Amateur radio doesn't have to be something  
which predominantly sedentary 50+ year old men partake in.

The ARRL needs to do, as well as support other ARRL members who may  
wish to volunteer assisting with, way more outreach to folks under 40,  
and not simply in churches and youth groups, which I tend to read  
about far more than other venues.

> Michael, W4HIJ
> Just as an afterthought about the FM sats that always seem to draw  
> so much
> ire and drawing youth into the hobby.
> Say you have a young person who shows interest in the hobby,  
> specifically
> satellites.Which way do you think you might have more success  
> getting the
> kid motivated to get his license, show them a comparetively  
> inexpensive Dual
> band HT and an Arrow antenna that is more than likely to be finacially
> achievable for him/her and let them listen to grid square exchanges  
> or maybe
> witness the magic of APRS?
I personally think FM sat would be far more attractive/sexy to a non- 
amateur. As a professional career systems administrator, the data  
modes certainly appeal to me as well, however I suspect I'm in the  
minority with that viewpoint.

> Or, show them your super duper decked out sat station complete with
> switchable CP antennas and the latest an greatest DC to daylight rig  
> plus
> your sophisticated AZ/El tracking system that, while really  
> impressive and
> beautiful, is going to seem impossible to obtain for them? Then use  
> the
> station with all it's technical wizardry to let them listen to some  
> fella
> spend the entire pass of the SSB/CW satellite yakking about his  
> impending
> hernia operation....... Think about it.....
Yep, there's a great book called Low Profile Amateur Radio, published  
by the ARRL, and authored by Al Brodgon, W1AB.  The second edition is  
57 pages long and cost me $20. I often lend it out to friends and  
associates who are interested in learning about what they can do "on  
the cheap" or without a pile of huge equipment. As more and more  
people live in urban environments across the world than ever before,  
the reality that we're likely to have less physical space for our  
prospective ham rigs is something which must be addressed and  
acknowledged by anyone looking to help recruit new hams. Our  
forefathers were far more likely to live in the 'burbs with a nice big  
backyard and lots of space for ones' antennas and rigs.

Alex Perez

> Michael

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